education & tech

mLearning, teacher, scholar, social media

Education + Tech

Education & Tech, was created to build hope that education based on social technologies, can transform the new century, and enable abundance not only spiritually but economically. Milton Ramirez, Ed.D. - @tonnet is the founder & editor. He is a teacher, tech blogger, writes on education, and hails this blog from Union, NJ. For further questions, tips or concerns please e-mail him to:miltonramirez [at] educationandtech [dot] com

Teacher + Scholar

If you are a regular to Blog Education & Tech, you shall remember that I am a blogger and I'd written a post about education almost everyday since 2003. Education & Tech provides you with education news, expert tech advice, classroom management ideas, and social media tools for educators, administrators, parents and k-12 students.

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How to Write in an Era of Full Online Distraction

The single worst piece of writing advice I ever got was to stay away from the Internet because it would only waste my time and wouldn't help my writing.

This is the statement Gary Doctorow explains in his relevant post, although not necessarily the ed-tech conventional wisdom, we are accustomed to see in the echo chamber:

  • Don't research
  • Researching isn't writing and vice-versa. When you come to a factual matter that you could google in a matter of seconds, don't. Don't give in and look up the length of the Brooklyn Bridge, the population of Rhode Island, or the distance to the Sun. That way lies distraction — an endless click-trance that will turn your 20 minutes of composing into a half-day's idyll through the web. Instead, do what journalists do: type "TK" where your fact should go, as in "The Brooklyn bridge, all TK feet of it, sailed into the air like a kite." "TK" appears in very few English words (the one I get tripped up on is "Atkins") so a quick search through your document for "TK" will tell you whether you have any fact-checking to do afterwards. And your editor and copyeditor will recognize it if you miss it and bring it to your attention.

  • Kill your word-processor
  • Word, Google Office and OpenOffice all come with a bewildering array of typesetting and automation settings that you can play with forever. Forget it. All that stuff is distraction, and the last thing you want is your tool second-guessing you, "correcting" your spelling, criticizing your sentence structure, and so on. The programmers who wrote your word processor type all day long, every day, and they have the power to buy or acquire any tool they can imagine for entering text into a computer. They don't write their software with Word. They use a text-editor, like vi, Emacs, TextPad, BBEdit, Gedit, or any of a host of editors. These are some of the most venerable, reliable, powerful tools in the history of software (since they're at the core of all other software) and they have almost no distracting features — but they do have powerful search-and-replace functions. Best of all, the humble .txt file can be read by practically every application on your computer, can be pasted directly into an email, and can't transmit a virus.

  • Realtime communications tools are deadly
  • The biggest impediment to concentration is your computer's ecosystem of interruption technologies: IM, email alerts, RSS alerts, Skype rings, etc. Anything that requires you to wait for a response, even subconsciously, occupies your attention. Anything that leaps up on your screen to announce something new, occupies your attention. The more you can train your friends and family to use email, message boards, and similar technologies that allow you to save up your conversation for planned sessions instead of demanding your attention right now helps you carve out your 20 minutes. By all means, schedule a chat — voice, text, or video — when it's needed, but leaving your IM running is like sitting down to work after hanging a giant "DISTRACT ME" sign over your desk, one that shines brightly enough to be seen by the entire world.

We still think that Windows Live Writer and Google Docs are pretty good for this kind of things, but Tom Hoffman doesn't agree with us and he recommends that comes with a simple full screen word processor and, as for the moment, no interruption/notification system.

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Obama 2.0 and Its Impact on Learning 2.0

If you are interested on Web 2.0 topics, then this is a great blog post about Power, both Political and Peopled.

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Weak Economy Threatens Rural Schools

Cash-strapped districts are considering closing small, far-flung outposts. But parents and other residents say that would hurt their children's education and their communities.

Mount Charleston, Nevada - Ron and Paula Marino decided to move from Las Vegas to this village of thick pines and ski-lodge-style homes so their two boys can attend Earl B. Lundy Elementary School.

With its one teacher for a total of nine students, the school seemed like Shangri-La within the underfunded and overcrowded Clark County School District, which encompasses Las Vegas and outlying rural areas.

But by the time the Marinos' 4- and 5-year-old boys are ready to start school, Lundy may be closed.

Republished from

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Education & Tech News for Educators 01/22/2009

What does learning and teaching look like for me in 2009?
Meme: 5 things you would like to focus on in teaching and learning this year.

The best of the tech that teaches
BBC News snap shot of some of the more interesting BETT ones.

Should teachers blog? A legal approach.
I’ve been wondering where are the cases of student blogs dealing with serious First Amendment issues. I think we’re overdue for more litigation in that area.

A Digital Humanities Manifesto
The Mellon Seminar in Digital Humanities at UCLA issued A Digital Humanities Manifesto.

The rest of my favorite links are here.

Obama's "Era of Responsability" Applied to Education

Photo credit: Irina Souiki
No matter whether you are on the right, left, or center, there is an assumption that parents are being irresponsible in the raising their children when basic education is on call. The worst thing, there’s nothing policymakers can do about it. Yeah alright!

Some may think that we’ll never reach 100 percent parental responsibility, just like we’ll never reach 100 percent proficiency in reading and math.

Perhaps President Obama can get parents to show up for their job as their child’s first and most important teacher. Barack Obama, when campaigning back in May, first introduced his now broad concept of "mutual responsibility in education", he said:

There is no program and no policy that can substitute for a parent who is involved in their child’s education from day one. There is no substitute for a parent who will make sure their children are in school on time and help them with their homework after dinner and attend those parent-teacher conferences... And I have no doubt that we will still be talking about these problems in the next century if we do not have parents who are willing to turn off the TV once in awhile and put away the video games and read to their child. Responsibility for our children’s education has to start at home. We have to set high standards for them and spend time with them and love them. We have to hold ourselves accountable.

What can we do to support him in this cause of volunteering our time and aim our responsibilites? Should we accept that there’s nothing policymakers can do to encourage parents to take more responsibility for their children’s education? Mike Petrilli of Flypaper brings up this dilemma: "If KIPP schools can get 10,000 parents to sign a contract promising to be full partners in the learning process, what can all of our schools do to make 100 million parents do the same?"

Comments open for more ideas.

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A Definition of Collaborative Learning in Attention of New Teachers

Last night we had the privilege of listening for the very first time to George Siemens and his concepts on Connectivism & Connective Knowledge. Hat tip to @courosa for spreading word of the webcast (The Elluminate Recording for this Session).

Today, to complete our training, we've come across a great post about doing collaborative learning, but correctly. Connecting 2 the World post a exploration of what is the definition of Collaborative Learning to be differentiated from Work Groups. Does collaborative learning really work?

V Yonkers, Connecting 2 the World's editor, asses of the common mistake of get terms confused. New teachers, he writes, "they equate group work with collaborative learning. Vygotsky, in fact, did not take the teacher out of the equation but rather looked at learning as a social process. Many of my student teachers will put children in groups "to learn from each other."

A recommendation for teachers using collaborative learning, and the hardest one, "is to monitor multiple groups simultaneously, listening and speaking at the same time. It also takes a tremendous amount of management skill to ensure the groups stay on task." But the teacher ( or facilitator for this case) "needs to be able to identify common problems and address those problems either immediately or to create a lesson for the next class to follow them up.", concludes the lengthy post.

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Obama Inauguration Among Top Most Watched Net Event Ever

"We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America." - Barack Obama

These words made news web sites saw about 5.4 million visitors per minute. And making Obama Inauguration the 5th most watched net event ever in history:

    1. Nov. 4, 2008 8,572,042 Barack Obama is victorious in historic presidential election
    2. June 22, 2006 7,283,584 U.S. eliminated by Ghana in World Cup
    3. Mar. 20, 2008 7,008,325 Day One of U.S. College Basketball 2008 Playoffs Coverage
    4. Mar. 16, 2006 5,489,918 Day One of U.S. College Basketball 2006 Playoffs Coverage
    5. Jan. 20, 2009 5,401.250 Barack Obama's inauguration.

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Books, Blogs, Articles, Columns, Which Has the Greatest Impact in Our Careers?

Actually we've borrowed the question from The Blue Skunk Blog. Doug Johnson is the webmaster and also the Director of Media and Technology for the Mankato (MN) Public Schools. As a good educator and writer he has released his blog contents under Creative Commons and he' brought this interesting topic we want to pour in some more input.

The following is the cite Johnson included in his referred post:

  • Do you find yourself with too much free time to devote to your family, hobbies, or charity work?
  • Do you feel like you’re wasting time reading books, taking walks, or working on a Master’s Degree?
  • Is your mind so demented that you believe people want to read your every waking thought?
  • Do you want to come home from a full-time job and then work some more? ...

If you answered YES to all 4, Congratulations... you have what it takes to blog. And it is quite possible that you are a moron, slightly creepy, and in a word… breathtakingly odd (sorry, two words… and there is no chance I want to ever meet you in person)

Does a professional have a bigger impact on the profession writing books or blog entries, is the central question here.

We do think that it hasn't a definite answer. As his 'library hero' states, it all depends of different circumstances. First, we all need to remember who is the person who's reading our writings. If these are our colleagues, then both systems, print and online contents will have a great impact. These people have all possibilities to read at his choice and will pick either a book or a computer screen or even a ebook.

On the other hand, if the receivers of this channel of communication are the young ones (not to mention the generations typology), then books will be a waste. New literacy users are more comfortable reading online. They still can read a book on the computer but they will read a print book only in classroom only if the teacher does not allow other outputs. They prefer to do everything online and things are changing with adults, too.

As for ourselves, a blog entry will survive times, it will be there for my son to read it. If not, still some of my friends will check it. The newcomers is highly possible to land any of our posts. Books? We don't even have one, they require much more investment on time and money and we haven't get it yet, a good editor.

What's your takeaway on this hot topic?

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Education & Tech News for Educators 01/19/2009

Phony Facebook pages teach students a lesson
After a college resource company created a legion of phony Class of 2013 Facebook groups--a scheme that could have harvested personal information from thousands of students--some higher-education officials say it might be time for colleges to step in and manage online social-networking sites for their campuses themselves.

Students Spending More and Getting Less
Did you watched last edition of 20/20? This is a very troubling report about the increasing cost of college and where the money is going. But it really pays to go college nowadays?

Why the web is the real pedagogic engine
Web has done more for pedagogy in the last five years than the entire output of academic educational departments and other institutions in the last fifty years. See evolution of Google, Wiki and Social Networks.

What Mean Ye “Blogging?”
CogDogBlog wanted to see if there were ways to do blog-like publishing in things that are not blogs. There you go.

The rest of my favorite links are here.

Social Networks Are for Adults Too, Says a PEW Survey

The Pew Internet and American Life Project have just released a very interesting report about adults and social networks websites. What the track survey made on December 2008 found is that, "The share of adult internet users who have a profile on an online social network site has more than quadrupled in the past four years — from 8% in 2005 to 35% now"

If you want to read more on this report, grab the free PDF here. Being lazy as we find ourserlves tonight, we will refrain to write more and we will reproduce waht Karine Joly finds as the more relevant findings:

>> 75% of our college crowd, young adults aged 18-24 have a profile (no big scoop here, but always nice to have some recent data, don’t you think?), 57% of online adults 25-34, 30% of online adults 35-44

>> In February 2005, just 2% of adult internet users had visited an online social network “yesterday” while 19% of adult internet users had done so in December 2008.

>> Social network users are also more likely to be students — 68% of full time students and 71% of part-time students have a social network profile, while just 28% of adults who are not students use social networks.

>> Nearly one third 31% of online white adults have a social networking profile, compared with 43% of African-Americans and 48% of Hispanics.

>>So, where are those networking adults?
    * 50% of adult social network users have a profile on MySpace
    * 22% have a profile on Facebook
    * 6% have a profile on LinkedIn

MySpace users are more likely to be women, Hispanic or black, to have a high school education or some experience with college. The median age of a MySpace user is 27 years old. Facebook users are more likely to be men and to have a college degree. The median age of a Facebook user is 26 years old. LinkedIn users are more likely to be men, to be white and to have a college degree. The median age of a LinkedIn user is 40 years old.

>> When users do use social networks for professional and personal reasons, they will often maintain multiple profiles, generally on different sites.
51% of social network users have two or more online profiles
43% have only one online profile

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Web-Teaching Celebrities Based on Knowledge and Inspiration

A thrilling post we've read today and we truly want to share it to you. Chris Anderson answering the question What Will Change Everything, advocates firmly on Teaching:

"For one thing, the realization that today's best teachers can become global celebrities is going to boost the caliber of those who teach. For the first time in many years it's possible to imagine ambitious, brilliant 18-year-olds putting teacher at the top of their career choice list. Indeed the very definition of great teacher will expand, as numerous others outside the profession with the ability to communicate important ideas find a new incentive to make that talent available to the world. Additionally every existing teacher can greatly amplify their own abilities by inviting into their classroom, on video, the world's greatest scientists, visionaries and tutors. (Can a teacher inspire over video? Absolutely. We hear jaw-dropping stories of this every day.)

Now think about this from the pupils' perspective. In the past, everyone's success has depended on whether they were lucky enough to have a great mentor or teacher in their neighborhood. The vast majority have not been fortunate. But a young girl born in Africa today will probably have access in 10 years' time to a cell phone with a high-resolution screen, a web connection, and more power than the computer you own today. We can imagine her obtaining face-to-face insight and encouragement from her choice of the world's great teachers. She will get a chance to be what she can be. And she might just end up being the person who saves the planet for our grandchildren."

Is this a Web Empowered Revolution in Teaching? Hat tip to Weblogg-ed of Will Richardson.

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